A New Year With Less Fear

In with the new and out with old, it’s finally time to ring in a new year. Each January, I try to come up with about three or four resolutions that I think would help improve myself (because ain’t nobody perfect in this world, except maybe Beyoncé) and make some sort of progress in the year to come. Generally, my resolutions sound something like, “Hey Lauren, this year occasionally put on pants and get off the couch on Saturdays,” or “Eat more pizza because it’s delicious and makes people happy.” But it’s 2016, and I feel blessed and extra excited having made it through the past year of man-buns, selfie sticks, and Ashley Madison scandals, so I decided to spice up my resolutions and keep them purely improv related. Why? Because A) it’s my life and I do what I want bro, and B) signing up for improv at DCH was hands down the best decision I made in 2015. Though still an improv newbie, I have decided to challenge myself with three resolutions...improv resolutions...improv-alutions (too far?). Without further ado:

See more shows.

See more shows. See more shows. See more shows! This is pretty much what the DCH teachers have been nagging me (and by me, I mean all of us) to do from day one. In the words of the oh-so-wise Ashley Bright, “If you want to get better at improv, then you have to get off your butt and go see some improv.” I was skeptical about this at first but quickly discovered that watching the pros really did help my performance in class. It didn’t cause me to transform into Tina Fey overnight or anything, but it certainly allowed me to pick up on different techniques and really be able to see the lessons from class come together on stage. In 2016, I resolve to go see as many shows as I possibly can without causing the DCH staff to think I have no life and am a huge creeper.  

Continue to stay positive.

Mean GirlsThis sums up my Level 2 experience in a nutshell. Staying positive in scenes is a lot harder than it sounds. It’s so easy to dwell on the negative, hold grudges, and feel the urge to murder that one little kid kicking the back of your seat on an airplane, instead of looking on the bright side. It goes the same for scene work, and I often find myself resorting to conflict as a device for humor. But no more! This is 2016, a year for positive thinking and positive scenes. OK, not all scenes are going to be rainbows and sunshine, but one can dream. Right? Thus, I resolve to lean toward positivity in scenes as much as I can--and no I am not that one chick from Mean Girls who “doesn’t even go here.”

Have less fear.

MiaThis is probably the most challenging and important resolution I have on my list. Those who know me are always a little surprised to hear I do improv comedy. That’s because I have a major phobia of standing on stage and talking in front of other humans, which often presents itself in several uncomfortable symptoms, #TheStruggleIsReal. Knowing I’m about to speak in front of an audience causes my heart to race, my feet to freeze up, and a number of my orifices to perspire uncontrollably. I also suddenly feel like vomiting, peeing, and curling up in the fetal position and crying all at the same time. Think Mia Thermopolis before becoming princess of Genovia.

When I first signed up for improv, I was absolutely terrified--heck I’m still terrified, though significantly less so than when I started. I remember my first day of Level 1 class and thinking to myself every five minutes, “Now would be an excellent time to make a run for the door.” The funny thing is, I didn’t run and I kept coming back for more. It could be that I’m just a huge glutton for punishment, but I think the judgment-free environment and the "anything goes" mentality gave me the reassurance I needed to continue on my improv journey.

Thursday ClassBut perhaps, the greatest and most surprising thing about improv is that it gave me a family of troupe mates who support me and have my back no matter what. My Thursday night squad, they’re my true ride or dies. (Thursday class, holla at your girl!) I’m already grateful for the confidence that they’ve given me and that continues to build. I could be the crappiest of craps, but they’ll still make me feel like a rock star. God bless them for that!

What does this mean in terms of my resolution? It means I can finally lose some of my irrational fear and start taking risks, the dipping-my-toes-in-the-kiddie-pool-to-test-the-water type risk. Knowing I’m able to say practically whatever I want and that I can trust my troupe to safety net me, I can actually start playing on stage. In 2016, I can be the better, bolder, make-it-on-stage-for-at-least-three-scenes me. For my final resolution this year, I resolve to have less fear--to push myself to get out for more scenes, take more chances, and maybe even make it to a Tuesday night jam or two. We’ll see. It’s only the first week of January.

So those are my new year’s improv resolutions. Maybe they’ll inspire some of you, or maybe you’ve already made your own. If so, what are they? Commence comments below!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 3 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.